Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Majestic Power Incognito

December 18, 2010

As always

God approaches

As promised

Deity morphed

Humanity embraced

Power descended

Entering an adolescent’s womb

Strength packaged in weakness

His birth our hope

His confinement our freedom

His suffering our release

His payment our penalty

His death our redemption

His light penetrates my darkness

Redefining Fatherhood

November 9, 2010

Suggested Reading

John 17:20-26

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”  John 17:26

Sunday’s sermon stirred a desire for healing in Joyce. She responded to the pastor’s invitation to come up for prayer at the end of the service. Joyce asked me to pray for her emotional healing to overcome the relational scars received by an abusive dad. After praying, Joyce shared that hearing me ask God to become a “father” to her, instead of bringing comfort, unleashed all kinds of ugly childhood memories.

Realizing that Joyce was transferring her experience with her earthly father into her image of her Heavenly Father, I asked a Joyce a few family questions. Upon discovering that Joyce was loved and adored by her grandfather, I suggested she picture her grandfather every time the word father was mentioned. I believed this would help her upgrade from a negative to a positive role model.

What I failed to recognize was as long as earthly people become our point of reference, our definition of father will be skewed. Jesus recognized earthly upgrades are limited and faulty, that’s why He came to demonstrate His Father’s love. My friend didn’t need an earthly example, she needed the ultimate model: the Father’s love demonstrated through Jesus.

Jesus’ words in John 17 express His desire for us to experience the same loving relationship He had with His Father. Christ showed us on Calvary how much our Heavenly Father loved us and what He would pay to have a relationship with us. The love Jesus received from His Heavenly Father was go powerful that He was willing to die in order for us to have this same relationship with His Father.

Now when I pray for people like Joyce who struggle in forming an accurate concept of their Heavenly Father, I direct them to the ultimate model…Jesus.

Personal Prayer

Father, expose and help me release any false beliefs and misperceptions about you. Help me to experience the depth of the loving relationship you desire with me.

Reflection Question

How can we recognize faulty assumptions and beliefs about God?

Thought to Ponder

You can’t trust your father until you know him.

Quote to Consider

“True and proper fatherhood resides in God and from this fatherhood what we know as fatherhood among us men is derived.”

Karl Barth

Don’t Cocoon

October 7, 2010

This devotional has been revised and reposted. It was first posted on April 19, 2010

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Rob’s acceptance of a work position for E-bay led us on a home search to San Jose, California. On our third and final day of searching, we put an offer down on a condo. The reality of the move and its preparation seemed surreal and mind boggling. Uncertain how to downsize and adapt from a four bedroom, 4200 sq. foot four bedroom home to a two bedroom, 1240 sq. foot home brought an endless whirlwind of questions that left me unable to sleep at midnight.

In my sleep deprived state, I arose from bed, wrapped myself in a blanket, and headed to another room praying that God would help me release my anxiety. My prayer seemed more of a plea asking God to overcome my anxious thoughts, more rightly, mental anguish, into a peaceful calm.

While praying, God brought to the mind of this visual learner a picture of a butterfly standing on top of the cocoon from which she recently emerged. Strangely enough, this butterfly was seeking to return to her cocoon. The message was clear. I was looking to the things and circumstances of the past for peace. This is idolatry. I was shackled and enslaved and needed to become free.

From my previous life opportunities and surroundings, God birthed beauty within. Remaining in the cocoon would damage the wings that developed within the cocoon equipping me to fly. Returning to the security of the past would rob me from embracing the glorious adventure and metamorphosis God is crafting.

With a renewed perspective, instead of loss, I saw this new direction as a path to freedom. God was releasing me of my attachments to things, comfort, and the false security that came through my environment and relationships with others.

With new insight, this butterfly began to fly freely into a new life chapter.

Personal Prayer

Father, forgive me for allowing my home and my past life to become a false security. I don’t want to trust in anything more than you. Help me recognize and release any false securities that compete with your plans and purpose for my life.

Reflection Questions

What causes you to cocoon?

What are signs and clues that you’re cocooning?

Question to Ponder

Are you clinging to God for things or clinging to God because He is the only thing worth clinging to?

Quotes to Consider

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

C .S .Lewis

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of shore.”

Andre’ Gide

One Thing You Lack

July 9, 2010

Read Mark 10:17-31

“But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” Mark 10:22

A wealthy young man who from an early age has complied with religious and cultural expectations asks Jesus, “What else must I do to inherit eternal life?” His words, like ours, reveal the misperceptions of our thinking and the heart attachments that enslave us.

Jesus addressed his faulty thinking explaining that eternal life is a free gift. Although freely available, it is never attainable through human effort.

Jesus’ next endeavor was to release this man’s imprisoned heart. He offered this rich property owner freedom through giving away the wealth that held him in bondage in order to embrace kingdom life in Christ.

The decision of this young man is one of the Bible’s saddest stories because this man left Jesus sad and grieving, unwilling to accept Christ’s lordship.

You see, Christ doesn’t want to take away our possessions, wealth, or family, He simply wants us to release the idols that enslave us robbing us from accepting the freedom of His lordship.

Personal Prayer

Father, reveal any faulty thinking and heart attachments that keep me from receiving the freedom of your lordship.

Freedom’s Dance

July 7, 2010

“I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” Jeremiah 31:4

It’s been two months since our relocation to San Jose. God’s direction on this next chapter of our lives has involved a downsizing and releasing of many things along with the physical separation of family and friends. Although I’ve remained confident that this is God’s plan, it hasn’t been easy. The sale of our home required removing the final furnishings including two antique Louis XVI French armoires. All my efforts to find new homes for them proved futile. It’s hard to locate a vacant nine foot high space in a home and I wasn’t aware of any museums adding to their collections of French antiques.

It’s taken me 60 days to finally let God take control. I’ve experienced anxiousness, worry, and a lack of sleep but I’m finally ready to release the treasures that had become shackles imprisoning my heart.

It was during the Fourth of July Sunday worship that God gave me a picture of what He completed in my life. As the music stirred a desire to dance, I imagined myself asking Jesus to dance. At first I was dancing with Him, then I dancing independently as He infused my steps bringing grace and beauty to my movements. I knew instantly that this was a dance of freedom and my past journey allowed me to experience this dance.

One question remained in my mind that I presented to Jesus. Since He pursues me, why did I ask Him to dance instead of Him asking me?

His response was, “Lorie, I’m always available and waiting to dance with you. You are not free to dance with me when your hands and heart are attached to things and people. Your release brought you to the dance floor and into the dance of freedom.”

Personal Response

What attachments keep you from freedom’s dance? Ask Christ to free you to be able to dance freely with Him by revealing any:

  • Plans you’ve formed that you need to surrender.
  • Desires you pursue that compete with His desires for you.
  • Treasured things and relationships you are grasping that prevent you from dancing with Him.

Release Failure for Forgiveness

June 11, 2010

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

 I have a friend who could easily live her life in regret. One day she sensed God telling her to warn her neighbor to watch her infant closely. Upon sharing her plan to caution her neighbor, her husband told her the neighbor would think she was loony. Fear held her back and the next day she discovered the neighbor’s child died from SIDS.

Christ came to earth not because of our obedience but because of our disobedience. Peter and Judas both experienced failure, Peter denied Christ and Judas betrayed Him. It’s encouraging that their failure didn’t surprise Christ, He announced his knowledge of their actions before they occurred.

My friend’s disobedience was no surprise to God. Children who fall while learning to walk are not punished by a parent. They are lifted up again and placed back on their feet and encouraged to try again. Unlike Judas, who allowed failure to drive him to suicide, my friend is embracing forgiveness like Peter. As forgiveness ignited an unstoppable boldness in Peter that death threats couldn’t silence, my friend is learning to trust God’s voice and obey His instructions over the voice of others.

Failure is never final when forgiveness is available. Although available, we must choose whether we live in regret over our failures or live in Christ’s forgiveness.

Personal Response

Present your failures to God. Allow the actions that hindered your fellowship with Him to draw you back to Him. Remember Christ came to earth because of your need, not your success. Exchange your failures for his forgiveness. Like Peter, let Christ’s forgiveness empower you to live boldly for Him.

Release the Past

June 10, 2010

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13

 Let’s face it, we’ve all suffered the consequences resulting from the actions and choices of others. Words spoken in anger, physical and emotional attacks that wound. Hurts whose stinging pain penetrates the heart.  While we’ve all been the victim, we’ve all afflicted pain on others. The memory of our actions easily entraps us in regret and the endless cycle of “if only.”

It’s Paul’s life experience that makes his words so powerful. If anyone could have been plagued by regret, it would have been Paul. In his religious zeal he persecuted the church and martyred Christians.  He was the headmaster at Stephen’s stoning, where he watched a follower of Christ courageously die while praying for his accusers.

Like Paul, we can experience the transforming power of Jesus which exceeds the power of our past. We are not to deny our past (sins we’ve committed or sins committed against us), yet we are not to be trapped by them. When painful reminders of the wounds caused by others come, we need to remember that God has the ability to heal us from past hurts. Any pain he allows, he has a plan to use and heal. He paid the full price for our redemption and healing on Calvary.

 Let your woundedness draw you to the healer. Let Christ take your pain and make you sensitive to hurting people. Allow the regret of the afflictions you have caused to  inspire you to live a transformed life. Release the bondage of the past along with the regret. Paul, Stephen’s murder, chose to embrace grace, not guilt. This empowered Paul to live and die in a way that honored God.

Don’t allow the mistakes of your past to disqualify you from the future. Let your learning inspire you to live differently. God transforming truth is always more powerful than your past.

  • What pain do you need to release and ask God to heal and use?
  • What regret do you need to release and exchange for a transformed life?

New Life

May 14, 2010

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:18

My friend Amy is six month’s pregnant. You can look at her and know immediately that new life is forming within her. Like Amy, God is birthing new life in me. The challenge is that in order for God to birth the new, he has to strip the old.

On our journey from Washington to California, I observed beautiful mountains. Seeing areas stripped of trees, I was initially filled with sadness. The forest appeared naked and exposed. That sadness was released when I realized the harvested trees now served a different purpose. Their time of growth concluded which allowed them to fill a need somewhere else. Their removal allowed the planting of new seedlings which now take root below ground in the sunshine and open space. These tender new plants never would have survived under the canopy of the earlier trees.

When I experience stripping of past securities, comforts, possessions, I need to not allow the longing for the beauty of the past to hinder the growth of the new.

  •  What dreams, people, or longings do you need to release?
  • Are you clinging to anything that hinders you from experiencing new life?